Posts Tagged Cleaning Kitchens and Bathrooms

Part 1 -Tools of The Trade: CLEANERS

Five CleanersONLY FIVE

Fifteen years in the house cleaning business and I can honestly say Penguin’s Best rarely needed to use more than five cleaners in any one home.

Walk away from the belief that the more cleaners you own the cleaner your home is.  How is it working for you?

Think less. Think multipurpose.  Think Green.

Do your homework when it comes to chemicals, and remember to Keep It Simple (KISS) always


Who comes in contact with CHEMICALS every day? EVERYBODY!  Exposure to household cleaners can be more harmful to your health than hazardous chemicals. People take notice to the latter; however, often we disregard the cautions when it comes to cleaning products.

From the 5 cleaners, the first 3 are universally known and are MUST HAVES in every home.

  1. GLASS CLEANER: Multiple surfaces including mirrors and glass.  A safe option for use on appliances and stainless steel.
  2. WHITE VINEGAR: Tasty on salads and wonderful for cooking—even more wonderful to use on drains and floors! With over 90 other uses, distilled white vinegar is a winner and a Green hero!*
    *A footnote: In Haley’s Cleaning Hints you will find hundreds of green clean recipes for your home made from ordinary household items. A good read!
  3. BLEACH: The ultimate kryptonite for germs—Lethal! Mix one part bleach to 10 part water solution (never use bleach straight).  Always work in a well-ventilated space—especially when you use bleach in smaller rooms (like a bathroom).
    *A footnote: After 24 hours, your water/bleach solution will lose its potency.  Get in the habit of mixing a small batch whenever you need it.
  4. POWDERED CLEANER: Ajax and Comet are common options, but you may also find similar cleaners in a cream form. Powdered cleaners are often used for the inside of porcelain, stainless steel, fiberglass in kitchen and bathroom sinks, bathtubs, and toilet bowls. Only a small amount of product is required for a good clean. The cream varieties allow you to have better control when dispensing, thus leading to less product waste; however, I personally prefer the powder form.  To limit the powder flow, open only two of the many holes at the top of the container. Also consider powdering only the sponge or brush you are cleaning with rather than the surface. Add just a small amount of water while you are agitating the area to be cleaned. Thoroughly rinse the surface with cold water when done.
    Important Note: never leave a powder product on a surface and walk away without rinsing. The paste will harden, and will be tough to rinse.
  5. SURFACE CLEANER: I have had more debates on the topic of surface cleaners than on any other cleaner. Especially now with the popularity of greener living, chemical companies are slapping more Green labels on their cleaning products than their food industry counterparts, like Smart Choice. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Choose a surface cleaner that is non-toxic, biodegradable, odor-free, and safe to use around food. Also, choose one that can be used on multiple surfaces.

At Penguin’s Best we’ve used Red Juice for the past 15 years with great results (

* TIP BOARD: When you invest in big ticket items for your home—such as kitchen or bathroom counters, floors, furniture, rugs—take the time to speak with your retailer regarding proper maintenance of your purchase. It’s ALWAYS a good idea to get this information to reduce waste and save money. If the retailer or manufacturer recommends a specific product, ask him or her if they can provide you with more details.

Investigate the chemicals you are currently using at home and anything new that comes in the door—including all aerosol products (hairsprays to room fresheners).


  • CLEAN OFTEN: If you clean your home more often, and do spot cleaning when time is tight, your dependency on harsh chemicals will greatly be reduced.
  • CHOOSE YOUR TOOLS WISELY: Use the right tools for the job (coming soon in Part 2 of Tools of The Trade).
  • SIMPLIFY: Get in the habit of using ordinary household items like distilled white vinegar.
  • READ LABELS: ALL of them. Contact the manufacturer and request the product’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This document outlines the health hazards of a product and how to protect yourself from any danger associated with the product’s chemicals.
  • CONCENTRATE: Buy concentrates that you plan to use within one year. All cleaning products lose their effectiveness over time.
  • SAY NO TO HOT WATER: Do NOT use hot water with ANY cleaner. The heat activates the chemicals, and the steam will prevent you from seeing the job at hand.



**** Stay tuned for Part 2 - Tricks of the Trade: TOOLS ****

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Need A Good Mop?

Do you need a GOOD mop?  What constitutes a GOOD mop?

Could a good mop look like the one the self-crowned Queen is holding in the picture?  NOT!

Since I started Penguin’s Best Housekeeping Service 15 years ago, we use the same mops and buckets.  I do not mean the same design, I mean the same exact mops and buckets and they look like new!  How could this be possible?  Here is the formula:

Nicky’s GOOD Mop Formula:  Quality Mop + Easy Care = Good Mop

TWO POINTS to help you apply the mop formula at home:

1.  CHEAP IS OUT.  Invest in a professional mop and bucket.  As the British say, “I am not rich to buy cheap products.”

2.  EASY CARE.  Your selection needs to have removable, washable parts (mop head).


There are mops galore.  You can find lots of Mr. Mops dumped every day in our landfills.  I am sure, when they were initially selected at the local grocery store, they did not look too bad.  Let’s see–most of us have used the standard string and sponge mops.  Newcomers to the market are the Microfiber Roller Mop, the Fabric Twist Mop, the Tornado Mop, the Wonder Mop and the wet/dry collection.  All full of promise and power.  Many come with removable or replaceable refills.  I favor the ones with washable refills over the replaceable ones.  It will stretch your investment $ a bit further.

My pick for a mop and one that I use for my home and business is an easy-to-use, easy-to-maintain mop.  It is professionally designed and constructed with a removable, washable mop sleeve (mop head) at an average price point.

I initially discovered my mop from a company in California.  Now you can find a similar mop at your local grocery or hardware store.

What makes this mop so unique is its large, flat base and the removable mop head that slips over the base.  The mop base covers more space than an average mop.  It measures 8″ x 15″.  It comes with a standard 22″ handle.  The base is low and pivots in any direction for those hard-to-reach places.  Note:  Always wash your mop head separately with a little detergent and bleach.  Hang it to dry (don’t put it in the dryer as it will loosen the elastic).  You can also put it back on the mop to dry.  Have a bracket for your mop and always hang your mop high in order for it to dry.

I do not care to endorse any product or company, but if you like to check my GOOD mop pick, go to under Sh-Mop.  You can also find a mop with a similar design at your local grocery or hardware store.  If you decide to order, don’t forget to order extra mop heads.

TIPS: Not only look for a good quality mop and bucket, but also for a removable and washable mop head.  It will help keep your home Clean Green!  Make sure you vacuum or sweep the floor before you mop.  If you clean your spills right away and mop often, “elbow” and “grease” will stay as separate words for you.  Mopping can be a breeze if you use the right mop and use it often.  I will cover technique later, but I do want to emphasize water is the enemy here.  Make sure you squeeze your mop well before every mopping.

Write to us if you have an interesting or funny mop story.

Happy Mopping!


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